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Florida's new anti-policyholder SB 76 signed into law by Governor DeSantis | Legal insurance blog for property insurance



Florida's new anti-policyholder laws contained in SB 76 were not vetoed and instead were signed into law as of July 1, 2021. This is a huge gain for insurance companies that delay and underpay claims. The effects of these laws make it harder to hold these insurers liable, further delay claims when these insurers delay payment, provide new technical defenses to insurers when they are sued, reduce the time to file all claims with insurers, and make it much less likely to policyholders' legal fees will be paid in full by delays and underpaid insurance companies. To conclude, no one in the insurance industry promises that these new laws will lower the insurance rate.

I asked many insurance lawyers how they think this law will be interpreted and most comments suggest that the laws are so unique and ambiguous that when disputes begin, much of the dispute will be about exactly what they mean. You will not find these laws written anywhere else ̵

1; this is purely a legal failure in Florida that will make judges scratch their heads and insurance company lawyers who argue for technical issues to avoid paying attorney fees and look for technical defense to avoid payment. of the best comments I received from a colleague:

The new 627,428 only refers to the "amount of reasonable legal fees" but the accompanying new charter (627.70132) calculates both fees and costs together.

I'm still on the fence about the effects of an offer of judgment with the new law. It can eliminate the fact that the settlement proposal is submitted on behalf of a policyholder, which I must use in cases that raise 627,401 (2) as a defense against the payment of fees and costs. In the case of a PFS submitted by the carrier, reasonable fees and costs are stated in both the new 627,428 and 768.79; so we can claim that these reasonable fees and costs can ONLY be calculated under the new law.

The "reopened" or "complementary" language is a mess. Most operators do not "close" a claim completely, only administratively until more information is provided. Is the new information a trigger for resuming or supplementing the claim? The whole thing is poorly written and will cause great confusion for judges to figure out.

I agree with others that the requirement of two years / three years is a very dangerous recovery bar for the average homeowner. This in combination with the disputed language of what is a "reopened" claim against a "supplementary" claim can cause claims that are otherwise to be paid legally to be rejected.

I still hate the "made landfall" language because it does not specify dates like when the storm "lands" in Florida. This can have a detrimental effect when we talk about the 2-year limitation and the storm technically "lands" in the Caribbean days or weeks before it hits Florida.

Fla State. 627.70152 (1) states that "

The notice will be given according to the "form" provided by the department. Carriers are unlikely to argue that the message is defective, in form, if we use what is provided by the department.

Where I have problems with the message requirement is the difference in (4) versus (5). In (4) a message following a denial that requires only an estimate, if known; in (5) they state that it concerns matters "other than the denial of coverage." A claim is required only according to (5) (a) and (5) (b) requires that the disputed amount be stated. So …

• Do we have to make a claim in a claim that has been completely denied?

o It is not a requirement according to (4), only (5).

 If not, how does a policyholder get fees?

• The policyholders do not have the original 627,428 or PFS available.

 If this is the case, the carrier is not obliged to respond with an offer, and therefore the policyholders do not receive a "disputed amount." [19659017] • For a rejected claim and notice under (4), they are only obliged to respond by: accepting coverage, continuing to deny coverage; or claim the right to make a new inspection, which may lead to payment.

o If they pay but minimally, after a new inspection, do we need to start again with a new message under (5)?

o In a strange scenario, you can provide a message under (4), as long as it is on the department form, which simply says:

 & # 39; This message is provided under 627.70152 (3) ( a) and serves as our intention to initiate disputes. The carrier failed to provide coverage for and wrongly denied this claim. No estimate of damage is known at this time. ’

 Would the carrier then have to accept, reject or inspect again? Crazy.

• What "acts or omissions" are referred to in (5)?

o Is (5) only for an "evil faith" action?

o Is this intended to refer to a "party salary" or "deductible" type of claim?

 What happens if the carrier "covers" subsequent damage, but "denies" another aspect of the claim (as we have all seen)?

• How does a policyholder state a dispute amount in the notice if the policyholder has not yet received an offer of an advance payment?

o Again, for a denied claim and notice under (4), they are only required to respond by: accepting coverage, continuing to deny coverage or asserting the right to re-inspect.

o Insurers are only partially obliged to issue an offer if the notice falls under (5). Even then, instead of an offer, they can "demand" evaluation or other ADR. The charter is silent on whether it is applicable, regardless of policy terms. Dad pointed this out really well.

There is a whole can of worms here if I read this correctly, and everything affects the new calculation of fees, to make the calculations you need a correct message and a disputed amount. [19659032] Every lawyer in the real estate insurance industry knows how badly these laws were written – including insurance lawyers who have called me and asked how a claim is closed, what the definition of a closed claim is and who decides if a claim is closed. The field of defense is the happiest of all as this new law will lead to more disputes over technical issues to counteract the payment of coverage and the payment of legal fees. Their fees per case will increase no matter what. I talked to many legislators and lobbyists. The word was that the governor of Florida and the president of the senate had to get a bill on this subject.

This new law reads as it was written by Flori-duh . It hurts Florida policyholders and shows high tide for the Florida insurance industry's influence over Florida's elected leaders.
—Oliver Hardy


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